A friend is not a friend for any specific reason. A friend is a friend for no particular reason. Who you voted for, your biggest successes and failures, your religious beliefs or lack of them—they all take a backseat when the two friends gather. A friend knows all about you and still loves you. A friend will never demand your silence or deny your right to speak. I friend listens to understand and not to respond. The usual distinctions of age, money, class, education, and gender cease to matter. True friends meet with a clean slate and on equal terms.
The two friends gather for lunch. The cream cheese pepperoni pizza and the iced tea isn’t what the lunch is about. A friend knows feeding the soul is much more important than feeding the body. They talk about something. They talk about nothing. They are fine sitting in silence because they know sometimes communication transcends words. They laugh. They cry. They comfort. They challenge. They remember. They dream. Brick by brick they are becoming more together than either of them could have become as individuals. Not a bad gig.
God calls Abraham his friend (Isaiah 41:8). I always thought that was strange until I understood friendship better. Friendship is not something God or Abraham or anybody can do alone. It is something Abraham and God have to do together. Abraham is not being Creature and God is not being Creator. There is no agenda. They are simply being themselves together.
Is God’s friendship reserved for patriarchs like Abraham? Nope. Not according to Jesus: "You are my friends if you do what I command you (John 15:14)." Don’t get the idea that friendship is based on obedience or is in anyway conditional. The command Jesus refers to, of course, is "to love each other.”
To be friends is to love. Being patient and not expecting perfection. Being kind by using words and actions to serve. Practicing humility and not pride. Forgiving. Persevering. Making it through the tough times. Seems like a high price to pay and it certainly is. Jesus never says it’s easy. But he shows, consistently and relentlessly, that true friendship is worth all the effort and a whole lot more.
The best is yet to come…